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Morning Coffee: Banker with reputation for working juniors 80+ hours a week is unapologetic. Hedge fund’s 30 person ‘probing sessions’

These days, it’s become normal for banks to curtail the hours their juniors work and for juniors to be empowered to push back against senior staff who dump work on them late at night. At JP Morgan, the average young banker now works a ‘mere’ 72 hours a week, according to Wall Street Oasis. At Goldman Sachs, average weekly working hours are a snip at just 75.

Moelis & Co., however, consistently ranks towards the top of WSO’s chart for working hours. It did in 2017 and it did again for last year. At the boutique investment bank run by veteran dealmaker Ken Moelis, the average person claimed to work 84 hours a week in 2018. Only Russian bank VTB worked its bankers more.

This being so, you might think Ken would be offering words of reassurance to young bankers thinking of work for him, particularly as Glassdoor reviews for Moelis & Co. frequently cite the hours to be an issue. Ken, however, is having none of it. Instead, he told Business Insider that if you want to work in banking you have to be "willing to work hard" and that this willingness is the "key" to working in banking. This is partly because of clients, said Moelis: "...people hire us and they want us to work hard".

Nor is it just juniors who are expected to put the hours in at Moelis & Co. In a previous interview, from 2008, Ken said senior bankers are also differentiated by their work ethic: “I’ve always said that the investment banker who wins is the one who cares the most. … Do you actually care about the outcome? Are you up at two in the morning wondering about the details?”

Ken also had some advice for hardworking young people who want to change the world: go into banking instead of tech. Tech companies are overrated as agents of good: they’re just not mature enough to be trusted. “You know it takes a lot of years to establish a feeling of trust, loyalty and confidentiality,” said Ken. You have a lot of "leverage" in finance when, "you're sitting in the room with CEO's and executives and boards". Sitting in such a room is "quite an exhilarating place to be,"  he concluded - although whether it's still exhilarating after an 80 hour week is probably questionable.

Separately, everyone knows that highly profitable hedge fund Bridgewater has some curious cultural norms, but did anyone know about the probing? It seemingly happens a lot. Eileen Murray, Bridgewater's co-CEO says she is regularly subjected to "probing sessions" where she is questioned about her mistakes by 30 or more people. "Having a junior person question what I am doing after I've been doing it for so long? That was not initially for me," said Murray. It's a bit like being part of a big family, said Murray: "Sometimes, family tells you stuff that you don't want to hear, but you know it's coming from a loving place."


Ana Botín, executive chairman of Santander, says Andrea Orcel's hire was a rush-job. “Because of the level of the hire, there was a need to announce it early and at the time we didn’t have all the details ironed out.” (Financial Times) 

Deutsche Bank is supposed to be focusing on becoming the best bank in Germany, but JP Morgan has overtaken it in terms of investment banking fees. (Financial News) 

Konstantin Shakhnovich, the co-head of technology for Goldman Sachs' securities division is retiring. He was only promoted to run a new systematic fixed income trading business last June. (Reuters) 

The extent of SocGen's cuts to its investment bank could become clear next week. (Bloomberg) 

Evercore had a great year in 2018. It also increased its spending on compensation by 26% after making a “significant investment in advisory talent”. (Financial News) 

Credit Suisse thinks it paid too much under the 2009 to 2010 British bonus tax and wants to know how much other banks paid. Other banks don't want Credit Suisse to know for fear their bonus numbers will then become public, but now they're being forced to disclose the numbers. (Bloomberg) 

Brexiteers vindicated (sort of). London's trading volumes for the renminbi now eclipse those for the pound against the euro. (Financial Times) 

Barclays is moving €190bn in assets to Dublin because it can't wait to see what happens with Brexit. It will boost its Dublin headcount by 150 people to 300 as a result of the move. (BBC) 

PwC and EY won't be offering consulting services to their UK auditing clients (which sounds like it could cause an upset if you work in consulting and have to go and find a whole new set of clients). (Financial Times) 

Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: in the first instance. Whatsapp/Signal/Telegram also available. Bear with us if you leave a comment at the bottom of this article: all our comments are moderated by human beings. Sometimes these humans might be asleep, or away from their desks, so it may take a while for your comment to appear. Eventually it will – unless it’s offensive or libelous (in which case it won’t.)

AUTHORSarah Butcher Global Editor
  • vp
    31 January 2019

    Young people these days would rather spend 80 hours a week playing eSports.

  • Re
    31 January 2019

    Ehh here we go again, another grandpa who made in 80's and 90's forgot to check that the world has changed a bit and prestige of "sitting in the room with CEO's and executives and boards" is not longer that alluring to young people as beyound comp they also look for meaning and purpouse. And yes Tech has a huge leverage over banking since corporate slavery is slightly demode these days.

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